Pathfinder leadership training aims to keep young people engaged


“OFrom a Pathfinder, always a Pathfinder!

New Desbrava+ (“Pathfinders+”) of the South American Division (SAD) aims to give meaning to this common slogan.

Traditionally, Pathfinder club activities are aimed at 10-15 year olds. After 15 years, club members can choose to stay and qualify to become club officers. However, most of these teenagers end up walking away from the program.

Church leaders have noticed that some of the young people who leave their Pathfinder club are influenced by secular activities and ideas. Some even end up disconnecting from their Adventist congregations.

To combat this trend, SAD church leaders launched the Desbrava+ program. This initiative encourages Pathfinder Club members who turn 16 to stay involved in their club’s activities at the local level. Adventist members can choose to join a leadership training course, take group classes as part of the regular curriculum, or take on supportive leadership roles in their local club. Club members who are not yet baptized can still be trained to take on roles as helpers and supervised missions. As they undergo additional training, each club member is encouraged to serve in various church ministries.

According to SAD Pathfinder director Udolcy Zukowski, “Staying active in the club and church is essential to keeping each member’s faith alive. At this age, they want to feel a sense of belonging. They want to feel useful.

Zukowski explained that sometimes young people think they don’t have the qualifications or abilities to take on leadership roles or are too shy. “The Desbrava+ program is there to give them a little boost so they can develop skills and continue to be part of the club they love so much. As they do, they can continue to be influenced by a Christian environment,” Zukowski explained.

He noted that Desbrava+ is not a new class in the traditional cycle, nor a parallel club with different activities, but a specific personal growth program for 16 and 17 year olds. “It’s an initiative where they’re challenged to ‘get their hands dirty’ to serve and make a contribution,” Zukowski said. He added that this is a program exclusively for those who have already been members of a Pathfinder club, as this experience is essential to carry out the activities suggested by the program.

Teenagers who register Desbrava+ will have special identification on their uniform and, at the end of the year, will receive a lapel pin that can be used for various specialty honours. Developed with the help of church leaders in the region, the program will launch its pilot version in 2022. First, it will be presented to department heads and secretaries across SAD in early December 2021. By the end of January 2022, Church leaders said they expect to launch a pilot training phase in selected clubs. After performance reviews and adjustments, the program is expected to be rolled out to all SAD Pathfinder clubs in 2023, they said.

the original version of this story was published on the South American Division in the Portuguese language news sites.

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